McConnell Goes After Trump With Mention of His Own Wife

Senate minority leader brings up Elaine Chao in pushback at former president's immigrant remarks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2023 7:44 AM CST
McConnell Goes After Trump With Mention of His Own Wife
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife, former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, attend a picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Aug. 5.   (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Last weekend, former President Trump ramped up his attacks on immigrants at a New Hampshire rally, asserting they're "poisoning the blood of our country." Trump is now getting pushback on his rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican. "It strikes me that didn't bother him when he appointed Elaine Chao the secretary of transportation," McConnell said Tuesday of Trump's immigrant rhetoric, referring to his own wife, who was born in Taiwan, per the Hill. Chao, who's been married to McConnell since 1993 and also served as labor secretary under George W. Bush, has been the subject of Trump barbs before, including when the ex-commander in chief called her "Coco Chow" and "China loving" in a social media post last year.

McConnell isn't the only lawmaker who's speaking up to slam Trump's most recent inflammatory remarks. "Deplorable," GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine tells the Independent. "Those comments ... have no place, particularly from a former president." Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, also a Republican, weighs in as well, noting, "My grandfather was an immigrant. And we're a nation of immigrants. But we're a nation of laws. We have to enforce our borders." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agrees, somewhat, with Thune, calling Trump's remarks "despicable" but noting that "we all know there's a problem at the border," per the New York Times. "The president does. Democrats do. And we're going to try to solve that problem consistent with our principles."

It's another Democrat, however, who makes perhaps the most pointed retort to Trump. "Considering that two of his wives are immigrants, I guess his children are poisoned," Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono tells the Messenger. A few Republicans apparently aren't bothered by Trump's language, including Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, known most recently for a monthslong blockage of Senate military confirmations. Coming to Trump's defense on Tuesday, Tuberville said he was actually "mad" that Trump didn't go even harder in his New Hampshire speech. "Because have you seen what's happening at the border?" Tuberville said, per the Hill. "We're being overrun. So a little bit disappointed it wasn't tougher." Ohio Sen. JD Vance, meanwhile, says it's "objectively and obviously true" that "illegal immigrants [are] poisoning the blood of the country." (More Mitch McConnell stories.)

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